Hunter, a surname obviously derived from the chase and from the great superiority of the Normans in the sports of the field, it is supposed on good grounds that the families of this surname in Scotland are of Norman extraction. They are accustomed to carry in their armorial bearings three dogs of chase with three hunting horns. "In the castles and domains", says Robertson, "of the great barons who were lords of entire bailiwicks appropriated frequently for the accommodation of the sovereign it appears that various offices exclusively belonging to the sports of the field existed Johne le Hunter de la Foreste de Paisley and Hugh and Richard the hunters of Stragrife Renfrewshire appear in the Rag Roll; as also does Ayhner de la Hunter of the county of Ayr".
The office whatever it was held by the original bearers of this name is supposed to have been similar to that of forester from the fact that the motto of the Foresters of Corstorphine (now represented by the earls of Verulam in England) was "Hunter blow your horn". In the remarks on the Ragman Roll the Ayhner de la Hunter above mentioned is said to be the ancestor, "for certain of the Hunters of Arneil designed of Hunterston and of that ilk".
Nisbet says "As for the antiquity of the name Gulielmus Venator (which I take for Hunter) is a witness in the charter of erection of the bishopric of Glasgow by David I when he was prince of Cumberland. In a charter of King Alexander II of the lands of Manners to William Baddeley upon the resignation of Nicol Corbat of these lands and others the lands of Norman Hunter are exempted as the charter bears 'Quas Nicolaus Corbat nobis reddidit excepta terra quondam Nonnani Ven atoris quam Malcolmus frater Regis VYillielmi ei dedit'.
The most ancient families of the name in Scotland were the Hunters of Polmood in Peebles-shire and the Hunters of Hunterston in Ayrshire With regard to the former which is now extinct, Dr Pennecuik, in his Description of Tweeddale has inserted a copy of a translation of a charter pretending to be from Malcolm Canmore to the ancestor of the family which says Robertson, if not a foolish translation of a genuine charter is certainly framed on the traditionary story of the origin of the family and even in that light possesses considerable interest.
It is in these words: "I Malcolm Kenmure king the first of my reign gives to thee Normand Hunter of Powmood the Hope up and down above the earth to heaven and below the earth to hell as free to thee and thine as ever God gave it to me and mine and that for a bow and a broad arrow when I come to hunt in Yarrow. And for the malr suith I byte the white wax with my tooth, Before there witnesses three, May, Mauld and Marjorie"
A subsequent writer says, "From the strictest inquiry no such charter exists though there is strong presumption William the Lyon did make a similar grant of lands to Norman Hunter, a refugee who having followed William Conqueror into England fled from the arbitrary oppression his successors to seek shelter in Scotland".
Thomas Hunter of Polmood who died 20th March 1765 had executed a disposition and deed of entail on the 28th the previous January in favour of Alexander Hunter merehant in Edinburgh who though bearing the same name was no relation. As this deed was executed on deathbed was liable to reduction, if an heir could be found Hunter the last possessor of the estate was descended a natural son of Robert Hunter of Polmood who died 1689. The estate had been destined to the bastard and heirs of his body with a special declaration that in the of failure it should return to the granter his nearest male and assignees whatsoever.
On the death of Hunter two persons came forward each claiming to be the heir to the estate, one an old man called Adam Hunter the other of the name of Taylor who afterwards withdrew his claim. After nearly fifty years litigation both court of session and the House of Lords to which the had been appealed decided that Adam Hunter had not established his pedigree. An ancient prediction that The Hunters of Polmood were never to prosper seems in this case have been verified. Mr Alexander Hunter died at Edinburgh 22d January 1786 and was succeeded by his nephew Walter Hunter Esq of Polmood and Crailing whose danghter Elizabeth the wife of the eighteenth Lord Forbes came into possession of Polmood.
Of the Hunterston line Crawford says that he had very carefully perused their writs and that from charters they appear to have had at least a part of the estate they possess in Cunningham while the Morvilles were lords of that country as far back as the reign of Alexander II (between 1214 and 1249). From Mungo or Quintegern Hunter the tenth in possession of Hunterston and the ninth in direct descent from Norman le Hunter above mentioned descended the Hunters of Abbotshill Andrew Hunter, DD, the eighth of this family was the eldest son of Andrew Hunter Esq of Park, writer to the signet and Grizel Maxwell a daughter of General Maxwell of Car doness in the stewartry of Kirkcudbright one of those who, at the Revolution accompanied the prince of Orange to England He was bom at Edinburgh in 1743 and having studied for the church was in 1767 licensed by the presbytery of Edinburgh.
In 1770 he was presented to the New church of Dumfries and soon after he sold Abbotshill and pnrchased Barjarg in Nithsdale which had previously belonged to James Erskine of Barjarg and Alva one of the lords of session and which is now the designation of the elder branch of the Hunterston family. In 1779 Dr Hunter was presented to the New Greyfriars church Edinburgh and whilst there was appointed the colleague of Dr Hamilton in the divinity professorship of the university. In 1786 he was translated to the Tron church of that city. Several of his sermons on particular occasions have been published. He died on 21st April 1809.
By his wife Marion Shaw eldest daughter of the sixth Lord Napier he had four children His eldest son William Francis Hunter of Barjarg advocate married Jane St Aubyn daughter and eventually heiress of Francis St Aubyn of Collin Mixton by Jane Arundel coheiress of the Arundels of Tolveme and Truthall in Cornwall and through them representative of the earls of Devon. In compliance with the wishes of his wife he assumed the name of Arundel. Dr Hunter's youngest son the Rev John Hunter was appointed in 1832 one of the ministers of the Tron church Edinburgh. From the Hunters of Abbotshill, the Hunters of Doonholm, and Bonnytown, Ayrshire the Hunters of Thurston East Lothian and the Hunters of Brown hill of whom Sir David Hunter Blair of Blairquhan Ayrshire is the head are descended.
The above mentioned Mungo Hunter of Hunterston's eldest son, Robert succeeded to the estate and was one of the Ayrshire gentlemen who subscribed the band in defence of the reformed religion 4th September 1562. His grandson Patrick Hunter of Hunterston was a member of the committee of war for Ayrshire during the troubled time of 1647 and in 1662 he was fined £600 by one of the arbitrary acts of the earl of Middleton.
His third son Francis is supposed to have been ancestor of the Hunters of Long Calderwood in Lanarkshire of which family was the celebrated Dr William Hunter and his brother John the eminent surgeon and anatomist memoirs of whom are subsequently given. Their sister Jane was the mother of the celebrated Dr Matthew Baillie and the distinguished poetess Joanna Baillie.
Patrick's eldest son Robert Hunter of Hunterston had four sons. The second son Robert acquired by purchase in 1686 the lands of Kirkland Ayrshire and was the ancestor of that family. The fourth son John was father of General Robert Hunter who died governor of Jamaica in 1734 and was ancestor by his lady Elizabeth daughter and heiress of Sir Thomas Orby of Burton Pedwardine in the county of Lincoln baronet and widow of Lord John Hay second son of the second marquis of Tweeddale of the Orby Hunters of Croyland Abbey Linncolnshire. The male line of the family of Hunterston terminated with Robert Hunter of Hunterston who died in 1796 leaving a daughter Eleonora who married her cousin Robert Caldwell when the latter assumed the name of Hunter having in his wife's right become proprietor of the estate of Hunterston. He died in 1826 leaving issue.
The Hunter Name explained in 1863...
part of the Virtual Hunterston group of sites...
Hunter Clan of Ayrshire
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